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Seed library launches Saturday – local residents can start a garden for free

Lansing Public Library partners with Lansing Garden Club to promote green thumbs through seed library

LANSING, Ill. (April 17, 2023) – The Lansing Public Library and the Lansing Garden Club have partnered to start a seed library, offering residents a chance to plant vegetables, flowers, and other plants for free.

Sprouting new life in the library’s retired card catalog, the seed library is located near the front entrance of the Lansing Library, where, in addition to seed packets, residents can find literature to help them develop proper horticultural habits.

seed library
The seed library is located in the old card catalog, near the upper level entrance of the Lansing Library. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

“Seed libraries are making a comeback,” said Denise Benson of the Lansing Library. “I’ve seen them all over the library listservs and Facebook pages because a lot of libraries are coming up with them.”

Benson’s idea to start a seed library quickly led her to the Lansing Garden Club, which meets in the library every month. The club’s founder Diane Lund was eager to help, and provided the library with 733 packets of seeds from club members to get the project started.

“[The Lansing Library] is the hub of Lansing education — besides the schools — so this is a wonderful place to introduce a seed library. I love the location,” Lund said.

Seeds of all types

Beyond the seeds sourced from local gardeners, Benson received thousands of seeds from other organizations such as the Field Museum and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

The seeds available include annual and perennial plants and flowers (such as liatris, milkweed, and marigold), vegetables (such as blue jade sweet corn, tomato, and eggplant) and herbs (such as cilantro, catnip, and basil). Seeds are sorted alphabetically, and are found in paper packets, as plastic would suffocate the seeds, said Lund.

A variety of annuals, perennials, vegetables, and herbs are available. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

“The Lansing Garden Club is focusing on native species of annuals and perennials,” Lund said. “That’s something that has adapted to a certain environment, and it’s been here pre-settler — like European settlers. … Invasive species you will not find [in the seed library.]”

“Ours is going to be premium”

Although called a seed “library,” seed-takers do not need to check out the seeds or have a library card.

Accompanying the catalog of seed packets is a large binder and informational flyers on caring for plants in the Illinois climate.

seed library
Information is available to help seed-takers develop good horticultural habits. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

“I think ours is going to be premium,” Lund said of the seed library. “Let’s say somebody decides, ‘Yes, I’d like a garden. I want some veggies in the front and some perennials in the back.’ There’s information, educational books on how to do that. But what else does it mean? It means they are better from an ecology standpoint because now they’re not using pesticides or herbicides. They’re taking pride in their landscape, so there’s a beautification element to this. It builds up the community.”

The seed library is already open to the public, but officially launches on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. Those who come on Saturday will receive a special bookmark that contains a few seeds.

The seed library is open during library hours. The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue.

The Lansing Garden Club typically meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month in the Community Room at the Lansing Library.

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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.